First Serve – Canadian players on the pro tennis tours this week

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First Serve – Canadian players on the pro tennis tours this week
First Serve – Canadian players on the pro tennis tours this week

Last week was a just a preview for a full-blown week of grass-court tennis from the Canadian squad.

Milos Raonic, Vasek Pospisil and Daniel Nestor are all at the Queen's Club tournament in London, where Raonic is the No. 3 seed in the singles.

He has spent time since the French Open practicing on grass practicing with new mentor John McEnroe by his side - even enjoying some time on the surface with Andy Murray and his coach on Monday. But the top Canadian put all his eggs in one grass basket; Queen's Club is the only tournament he entered ahead of Wimbledon, and he had the misfortune of drawing Aussie Nick Kyrgios in the first round.

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Kyrgios is ranked one spot behind France's Gilles Simon, who grabbed the eighth and final seed in the tournament, so he was a most dangerous unseeded floater to run into so early. He has beaten Raonic the last three times they've played.

It's a tough draw for both, to say the least; Kyrgios also has Queen's as his only grass tuneup event. 

Pospisil qualified for the Queen's Club ATP Tour event Monday, after rain prevented him from closing out Tobias Kamke of Germany for two days. (Photo by Joel Ford/Getty Images)
Pospisil qualified for the Queen's Club ATP Tour event Monday, after rain prevented him from closing out Tobias Kamke of Germany for two days. (Photo by Joel Ford/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Vasek Pospisil is looking for some wins – any time, on any surface – as he prepares to defend his quarter-final effort at Wimbledon from a year ago. He hadn't won a match since Miami in late March, when he reached the second round. Five consecutive first-round defeats followed, four of them on clay but the fifth last week in the Netherlands, where he lost to Guillermo Garcia Lopez of Spain.

Pospisil would have gotten direct entry into Queen's Club except ... he forgot to enter. He wasn't alone; the top three seeds in the qualifying – Kevin Anderson, Pospisil and Adrian Mannarino, in that order – all neglected to sign up. So did Pospisil's regular doubles partner Jack Sock. Had Sock been in the draw, he likely would have played with him; instead, he's teaming up with Raonic for a test run leading up to their expected partnership at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Pospisil needed two days and half-a dozen different stops and starts before defeating Tobias Kamke of Germany 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 Monday to reach the main draw. The qualifying being only 16 players, it took just two matches. Only two matches were completed at all at Queen's Club on Monday; he was fortunate to be one of them and faces fellow qualifier Donald Young of the U.S. in the first round of the main draw Tuesday.

The Canadian won their only encounter in a main draw of an ATP event, last year on a hard court in Washington, D.C. But Young beat him both on grass in 2013 and all the way back in 2008 when the two then-teenagers met in the Rogers Cup qualifying.

Raonic and Pospisil drew No. 3 seeds Horia Tecau of Romania and Jean-Julien Rojer of the Netherlands in the first round of the doubles. Daniel Nestor and Brit Dominic Inglot, with whom he will play Wimbledon, drew No. 1 seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut of France.

Bouchard hit the doubles court for the first time since last year's US Open and while she and partner Sabine Lisicki came out second-best, it can't be bad thing to be in a match situation without all the singles pressure on her (Screenshot from TennisTV.com)
Bouchard hit the doubles court for the first time since last year's US Open and while she and partner Sabine Lisicki came out second-best, it can't be bad thing to be in a match situation without all the singles pressure on her (Screenshot from TennisTV.com)

Meanwhile, Genie Bouchard is in Mallorca, playing a smaller WTA Tour event. The bigger one is in Birmingham, England this week but Bouchard's ranking, still hovering just inside the top 50, wouldn't have allowed her direct entry.

She's the No. 8 seed in singles and plays her first-round match Tuesday against Danka Kovinic of Montenegro as she tries to get in win mode after dropping her first-round match at s'-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands last week – a 6-2, 6-0 disaster against Belgian qualifier Elise Mertens.

The 22-year-old already got a taste of the new centre court (it's a new grass-court event) Monday, when she teamed up with fellow Nike-ite Sabine Lisicki of Germany in doubles.

Bouchard hasn't played doubles since last year's US Open, when she reached the second round with Elena Vesnina of Russia and was forced to default her match after the notorious concussion incident in the tournament's locker room. It's not that Bouchard is averse to it but with her various niggling injuries, the idea seems to have been not to push it. Her early exits from the last few tournaments have left her short of match play, though; it's hard to get into a groove when you go a week between matches. 

Bouchard and Lisicki lost to Jelena Jankovic of Serbia and Aleksandrina Naydenova of Bulgaria Monday in a match that was short on good doubles but long on drama. The match tiebreak that decided it went 17-15 and featured a let serve not called on a match point against Bouchard and Lisicki, Jankovic inadvertently attempting to serve out of turn at 16-15 and getting caught, and lots of smiling.

Gabriela Dabrowski, who reached the final of a the WTA tournament in Nottingham with Zhaoxuan Yang of China last week and got her doubles ranking back into the top 50, is also in Mallorca and once again teamed up with Maria José Martínez Sánchez of Spain (as she was at the French Open and on several occasions through the clay-court season); they're seeded No. 4.

Françoise Abanda, who has played little of late, is back in action at a $25,000 women's event in Sumter, SC. Fed Cup teammate Carol Zhao, who returned to Stanford University for the spring semester and to rejoin her team for its NCAA Division I championship victory over Oklahoma State, will now be a full-time pro and also is playing in that tournament.

Unfortunately, the two will play each other in the first round.

Elsewhere, Frank Dancevic is out another week with a neck strain he suffered in a Futures event two weeks ago, while Peter Polansky is playing a $25,000 Futures event in Winston-Salem NC this week. Adil Shamasdin is playing doubles at a grass-court Challenger in Ilkley, while Spanish-Canadian Steven Diez, who reached the final of a Challenger in Moscow last week and jumped more than 40 spots in the rankings to finally land back in the top 200 at No. 199, is playing on clay in Blois, France.

There are a dozen Canadian men playing a $10,000 tournament in Buffalo, NY this week, and at least that many Canadian women playing a similarly-sized tournament in Victoria, BC.

Bookmark this link to keep up with all the Canadian results this week, and watch this space for news of the big guns as they continue to prepare for Wimbledon.

 

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